Editorial: Worthy opposition

A local candidate’s primary challenge will benefit voters in this year’s Kansas secretary of state race.

Another experienced, well-informed candidate is a good addition to about any election race.

For that reason, Scott Morgan, an attorney and former Lawrence school board president, deserves congratulations for entering the Republican race for Kansas secretary of state.

Morgan knows he faces a tough battle in challenging incumbent Kris Kobach, but his willingness to take on that challenge is a service to Kansas voters. A contested Republican primary for that office will force a more comprehensive discussion of the election and voter registration initiatives undertaken by Kobach.

Kobach expressed confidence Wednesday that “Kansans appreciate the photo ID and proof of citizenship laws” pushed through by his office. Morgan isn’t so sure that is the case, saying the new laws promote a more closed electoral process and suggest Republicans are afraid of the competition posed by allowing more voters to participate in elections.

“This is not who we are as Kansans or Republicans,” he said. “Frankly, he’s become a bully.”

Unlike several other Republican primary races in which incumbents are being challenged by candidates who represent a more conservative branch of their party, Morgan brings a more moderate philosophy to the secretary of state’s race. He has worked for Kansas Republicans like Gov. Mike Hayden and U.S. Sens. Bob Dole and Nancy Kassebaum. Those officials, for many Kansans, represent the moderate tradition of Kansas Republicanism that has been overwhelmed in recent years by the more conservative wing of the state party.

Challenging any incumbent is a tall order, but Morgan brings more than the average experience and campaign skill to the task. His knowledge and political savvy help set the stage for an active campaign that will allow Kansans to fully examine Kobach’s record and evaluate whether his actions as secretary of state have been beneficial to the state.

Win or lose, Morgan deserves the state’s gratitude for providing that invaluable opportunity as well as offering a viable option if voters decide Kobach doesn’t measure up.